Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My women's group is reading a great book called Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey, Ph.D. In it she describes a principle called, The Power of Acceptance—this moment is what it is.

That seems like a simple enough concept. I mean, you could translate it to say, "Live in reality, babe."

But, it also means letting go of the shoulds. And for a recovering perfectionist, that eliminates about half of my vocabulary on any given day.

I should have gotten up earlier. I should have ordered the salad instead of the pasta drenched in Alfredo sauce. I should have remembered to pick up the kids from my mother's…

Is it possible to truly live in the moment that is? Can I? I'd like the freedom of not wishing away what is or longing for what I think should be. I'd have a lot more mental energy.

Dr. Bailey explains (rough paraphrase) that when we accept how things are, peace follows, and we then have the ability to decide how we want life to flow from that point on.

The peace part is what I really like. Okay, so I didn't get my "to do" list completed, the kids didn't take out the trash, and the kitchen's a mess. . .

Deep breath . . . or two.

That is the reality of my moment. What do I want to do in my next moment?

I can clean or I can choose a bubble bath.

My old self would have worked long past bedtime to get things in order so the "should" sisters wouldn't follow me to bed with their incessant harping.

The new me, the one living in this now moment? I'll choose the bubble bath.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Husbands and Non-issues

Apparently this is the week of revelations.

I am smidgen task-oriented. My hubby would likely describe it in stronger, more glaring terms, but since it's my blog, I'm free to downplay it all I please.

But I admit that I am a go-getter. I need problems solved . . . NOW.

And I want to be first in line with the solution. I'm quick to point everyone's attention to myself, "If you'll just follow my lead, everything will be just fine."

This is primarily directed to the short people in our family, small dogs and the occasional husband.

Mat got up at 4:30 am the other morning to run with some neighbors, on a mere four hours sleep. By evening it was like sitting on the couch next to a loaf of bread.

Of course my mind jumps ahead to weeks and weeks of sitting next to this loaf of bread and trying to have intimate conversations to deepen our marriage relationship as he nods off to the next commercial. I wasn't seeing it.

The next morning, in the subtle way I have (please, no snarky laughter here), I asked if he was planning on any more of these middle of the night runs.

He nodded and told me what a great jump start it was to working out again. I bluntly stated that it wasn't working out for me.

He acquired that wise look in his eye and stated gently, "Not everything has to be an issue."

I deciphered the code hidden behind the words. "I've only run with them one day; please climb off my back, dear."

Once again, he was absolutely right. Everything that isn't running smoothly or on track according to the experts (ahem, that would be moi and moi), doesn't necessarily need to be discussed, addressed, dissected, deciphered, scrutinized or resolved.

Especially not in the next half hour.

I find that I want immediate results and immediate action. I want my issues to become critical to the whole family. But that isn't loving and it's not serving, except in the sense that it's self-serving, which is not pretty.

Afterall, it's not just about me. Right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hamster Wheels

Had a revelation of sorts today. Actually more like a throwing in of the towel.

But, oh, what sweet relief. What freedom!

For the last few weeks, I've been laying in bed staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out a workable schedule. A plan of action for the new school year.

There's so much that goes into running my life—quiet time with the Lord, exercise, writing, marketing, volunteering at school, Bible studies, house work, meal planning, grocery shopping, time with kids, time with hubby, homework, sports, time with friends . . .

Without the perfect schedule I was sunk.

Couple of roadblocks in my way. 1) I'd need to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get it all in, 2) I don't function at 4:30 in the morning.

So my compromise was to make myself go to bed at 9:30 pm and get up by 6:00 am. The problem was I'm rarely in bed before 11 o'clock.

So I was constantly faced with my failure and the perfectionistic whipping of my less than stellar self.

Start Over Tomorrow and Try Harder became the mantras.

I was always behind and trying to catch up. Do you know the kind of energy it takes to feed the "should haves" or "should be doing's?"

I was a hamster running on a wheel that spun faster and faster until it flung me off. And what would I do? I'd pick myself back up and race over to that wheel that hadn't slowed one iota. Little paws lifted, black nose moving in fast little circles as I followed the whirling wheel, trying to gauge the perfect moment to jump back on.

Over and over I jumped on and got thrown right back off.

Until it finally hit me. FORGET THE DARN WHEEL!

Stop trying for perfection. Stop trying to create a perfect, well-ordered world.

That's not reality.

Reality is that life is messy. Kids get sick. Laundry backs up. Kitchens don't stay clean.

Relax and enjoy the process. Get done what you can and laugh off the rest.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Checking it Off

Too often, I've seen my quiet time as something to be gotten through.

Something to check off my list (I'm an avid list maker). And this morning I was kicking myself for not having gotten up earlier and had my quiet time so it'd be out of the way.

When I heard that phrase bounce through my mind, I stopped. Out of the way?

Is God something to cross off my list? I realized that I view my quiet time too often as a chore and not as relational time with my God.

I want my quiet time to be first thing in the morning, not so I can feel better that it's one less thing I'll have to get to later, but because I don't want to spend one moment of my day without Him.

And that's one thing I've learned over the last week or so, is that I can't survive without Him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Goodbyes and The Missing . . .

The funeral was awful and wonderful.

Wonderful because my dear father-in-law is home with his beloved Lord. Awful because I hate goodbyes. I hate change. I hate things that disrupt the norm.

When I was gathering information to write Art's obituary, no one could remember exactly when he moved here from Montana. I reached for the phone, of course he would know.

I've heard people mention those moments of reaching out to call, to connect and then that icy flash of realization when the loss hits all over again.

It hurts. I called his office today just to listen to his voice. It was comforting, like a warm hug. I want to keep that message, so I can call when the missing becomes too much.

I've started feeling more like myself again. Not so lost in the flat fog of grief. I've actually had a few moments of elation for him. I know his joy is complete at this very moment and the next and the next.

I long for the time when life feels normal again, but realize the path of normal will be far different than the one before.

No more pancake lunches at our favorite restaurant. I don't know if I can even eat there anymore.

But life will go on, and the old norm will wane as new routines and structure color over the fading lines.

Hope will gradually fill in the cracks that the grief left in our hearts. Joy and excitement will once again sparkle in our lives with no diminishing shadows.

The joy of the Lord will be our strength. Thankfully His joy surrounds and carries us.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


A funeral is an event. Didn't realize how much went into organizing one. Pictures, slide shows, food.

So much preparation for a passing when your mind can't seem to even find first gear.

I drove past the store when I went to pick up milk for breakfast. I got into the wrong lane on a road I travel every day and headed downtown when I was trying to go home.

We're all trying to cope. My husband and I need quiet and the kids need to play. At top speed and full volume.

Last night around ten when the house was still, my middle son came down. I held him while he cried. He said, "I keep seeing Papa holding his arms out to me."

Isn't that like the picture of God? Always holding his arms out to love, to comfort, to show His immense affection for us.

I haven't done much talking to Him lately, though I feel His presence.

I haven't felt like talking at all. Except sometimes. Sometimes a friend will call and I can't stop talking. Other times I can't even answer the phone, or email.

I bought our clothes for the funeral yesterday. I wanted new clothes for our Papa. And I wanted black, everything to be solid black.

I set the pile down and the kindly man behind the counter gave us a cheerful smile and asked, "What's the occasion?"

I wanted to say it was for pictures or a concert.

But they are for a celebration of sorts. A celebration for a man who loved the Lord. Who lived a hard life and won the race.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My father-in-law passed from this life a few days ago.

He was bigger than life and left a hole larger than life. A self-made, independent man who struck out from the wilds of Montana when he was fifteen.

A man who left an imprint that was like no other.

Over the years, I've had friends who've lost loved ones and I've hated that I couldn't do anything to make their pain go away.

I've wanted to hurry things up—to help get their lives back to normal, back to what was comfortable and predictable.

When a moment of levity would lighten those tough moments or life regained normal footing for an hour or so, I'd be relieved, glad that they were moving on and grief wasn't swallowing them.

But what I've discovered is that despite being able to laugh at a memory or load the dishwasher without crying, the grief never goes away. It is a constant shadow that bleeds the color out of life, absorbing the joy and leaving flat gray in its place.

I feel snared in a place of unreality. My mind knows that everything has changed, yet is caught between that truth and the way I still yearn for things to be. The truth is a black hole I don't want to fall into.

I find myself struggling with anger toward God. It hasn't shaken my trust in Him and I see glimpses of His perfect plan, but I still feel lonesome for this man who was like a father to me.

Yet through all the pain, the anger, the grief, confusion and sadness, God's presence is close and it comforts me.

God is faithful even when we are faithless, for He can't deny Himself.